BRICK – A plan to build 59 homes on about 30 wooded acres owned by Visitation Roman Catholic Church and the Diocese of Trenton is being planned despite widespread opposition from residents, who want the land to remain in its natural state.
The first of what will likely be several Planning Board meetings had to be rescheduled from a February 23rd date and moved to a larger venue because the crowd exceeded the fire code.
The rescheduled date was on March 21 when an estimated 200 residents filled the gymnasium at the Civic Center.
Texas-based developer DR Horton NJ/PA ℅ Robert Fesco plans to build homes in a development named “The Havens at Metedeconk” that range from 2,600 square feet to 3,200 square feet on the property, which lies east of Laurel Avenue, backs up to the Osbornville Elementary School and borders Breton Woods.
The applicant’s engineer Leanne Hoffman provided testimony during the March 21 meeting that focused on stormwater management. Following NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) guidelines, the plan calls for five, large-scale infiltration basins that utilize green technology, she said.
“In the past we would dig a big hole and put the water there,” Hoffman said. “Now, we infiltrate the water back into the groundwater through the bottom of the basin.”
The infiltration basins have a “drain down time” of 27 hours for a 100-year-storm, she added. (This is a storm of the type that should only come along once a century.) Each of the basins would be surrounded by a four-foot high white pvc fence.
The original plan called for 72 small-scale, two-foot-deep bio basins on the side of the houses near the common property lines, the engineer said, but they redesigned the plan due to the township’s concerns about maintenance of the basins.
The applicant’s attorney John Giunco said the five large basins and surrounding landscaping would be maintained through a homeowner’s association.
Township engineer Elissa Commins asked how there would be a homeowner’s association since there is no pool or clubhouse.
“You will establish a homeowner’s association in perpetuity to maintain the stormwater management systems?” she asked. “Is this sustainable?” she asked.
Giunco said that is the plan.
Part of the stormwater management plan calls for the roads in the development to be made from a porous material with its upkeep becoming the township’s responsibility.
Under questioning by Planning Board engineer Brian Boccanfuso, Hoffman admitted she had never used the porous roadway material in other projects. Boccanfuso said the porous roadway would eventually become less efficient and would create maintenance issues.
The homes would be located in the R-15 zone, meaning the minimum lot size for each home is required to be 15,000 square feet, which they are. All corner lots are 17,250, Hoffman said.
Hoffman said the homes would create 21.4 percent of impervious lot coverage where 55 percent is permitted.
“If a developer wanted to, they could double the size of the house and could build much larger homes on the lots,” she said.
Boccanfuso said that in a few years as homeowners add decks, patios and pools, the impervious coverage could be increased and exceed what is allowed.
“[The plans] for impervious lot coverage is not a clear and accurate depiction, it’s a real concern,” he said.
Township planner Tara Paxton agreed.
“The reality is, there will be more than 21 percent impervious coverage within a few years of this development being completed,” she said. “You are designing for the minimum – we’re asking you to design for more than the minimum.”
Paxton asked the board engineer how much more impervious coverage the stormwater basins could handle.
Boccanfuso said there is no simple answer, “but not a tremendous amount…they don’t over-design a basin, so there’s not a lot of wiggle room there.”
Attorney Giunco said the applicant’s design meets the criteria of the stormwater management ordinance.
According to the website of the Church of the Visitation, the church will continue to operate. It is selling off unused acreage for two purposes: They have been paying taxes on land they don’t need and they want to build a Faith Formation Center on land they will continue to own.
The hearing for the application will continue at a special meeting planned for Monday, April 18 at 7 p.m. at the Civic Plaza on Chambers Bridge Road.